Little Sisters of Jesus in Germany

Twenty years ago the Berlin wall fell. In fact a peaceful revolution began when more than 70,000 citizens manifested in Leipzig against the regime, holding candles. There had been similar demonstrations in the whole of the DDR (German Democratic Republic). It was the first time that the Security Forces (8,000 !) did not interfere, even though- they were on alert. The resounding shouts of the crowd of ‘No violence!’ and ‘We are the people!’ will go down in history.

Twenty years, is a long period of time in our frantic society. Young people only know about the DDR through the stories of their parents or from history class. But those who have lived the time of separation are marked by it

We are still in wonder that the borders remain open! We can visit each other and get acquainted freely with the other part of the country. We have a lot to learn and discover. There is still a lot of prejudice and ignorance.

 East Germans can now travel throughout the world and fear of the omnipresent surveillance by the ‘Stasi’ (secret services) has disappeared. We feel however a certain nostalgia for the past. So much  has changed and it takes time to digest. In the past it was obvious for everybody to have a job and a place to live. Now, it can no more be taken for granted. Quite a few people with whom we live in Eastern Germany feel they are victims of reunification. Their nostalgia increases with the present economic crisis. It seems capitalism is not the answer because of the growing contrast between wealth and poverty in our country.

Looking back, I remember our small and hidden beginning in the 1980's in East Berlin. I remember how we were supported by the little sisters of the ‘ West’. I know that it was the multiple encounters and conversations with them which prepared me for the reunification of our country, even if I had not been able to dream of such an event. For me the West was not a perfect world and I thank you, dear little sisters on the other side of the border for having come and visited us with so much courage and joy, and for having told us about your life and daily experience. Seventy years ago our Community was born, twenty years ago Little sister Magdeleine died, just at the time of the fall of the Wall.

Little sister Magdeleine never accepted the borders and absurd interdictions, but with faith in ‘the Master of the impossible’ she planted a seed of freedom and respect. And the seed grew. Today we are confronted with new challenges. After the end of Communism, Europe is moving towards ever greater unity. The way is painful! In our Community we all feel that we need one another and we are looking into how our structures can express this.

We try to get closer to each other. We visit each other, we take part in gatherings together, we talk to each other and we try more and more to share questions, concerns and hopes for the future.  Little sister Magdeleine gives us an example of going beyond borders. We want to let go of fear to meet the other with an open heart, open to history and to each one’s personal experience.